• Debbie Salter Goodwin

Where Do You Need a Scarlet Cord?


She was a woman with a past and few secrets about it. She was that woman, the keep-your-husbands-away-from-her woman. She was trouble. She was Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho. Her house was conveniently located for anonymous entrance and quick escape. Red was her color, but it wasn’t just about sex and secrets. She discovered that “though [her] sins be as scarlet, ” she could be washed clean as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)


Her rescue is tucked into the story of Joshua’s God ordained victory over Jericho as the Israelites finally claimed the territory God marked out for them. You know the story of trumpeting circles and crumbling stone wall. Rahab and her family were the only survivors from the fall of Jericho. But it wasn’t by accident.


Rahab stepped out of her desperate past to hide Israelite spies because she had heard what their God did when Egypt tried to destroy them. She acknowledgement the Israelite God as the one true God because her gods had kept her caught, despised, rejected, and used. Her confession of faith opened a door of rescue not just for herself but for her family.

“Here,” Joshua said, “Take this red cord and hang it out of your window and we’ll rescue everyone in this house as long as you don’t tell anyone about us.”


A cord of safety for a household.


What is our red cord today for our family? What are we hanging out for God to see where we want to cooperate with His rescue mission? What will help us get those we love to God? Here are three possibilities:

Prayer by itself won’t rescue. someone. However, the righteous prayer that comes from a heart connected to God's reaching love is always effective. Why? Because it changes the person who prays first. They learn how to see God-created potential. That kind of prayer changes our words and thoughts about a family member. For me, praying scripture is my place of certainty. Then, I don’t simply pray my wishes and wants for the person or even my fears and don’ts against the person. I pray God’s love, the same love that found me in my stubborn willfulness. I pray His love so that my words and actions represent God’s scarlet cord of rescue.

Affirmation is to state positively and with confidence what is essentially true about a person. An affirmation addresses God-created potential in a person. God always wants to use the strengths of a person to bring him or her to salvation. Even the most rebellious person has a soft center somewhere. We don’t have to accept or condone behavior to affirm. Affirmation is about God-created personhood. We become safe havens for a mixed-up person. We don’t debate, argue, or lecture. Jesus didn’t. He simply spoke the truth in a love so irresistible that those ready to hear accepted his invitation to a new life. Use the scarlet cord of affirmation and see what happens.

Share your stories. Don’t preach them. Don’t moralize them. Don’t make them into warnings or lectures. Make them a story. People love stories. Start by saying, “Have I ever told you about the time God . . . . . Then, fill in the details. A faith declaration told as a story is a powerful tool God can use. No one can debate it because it’s your story. Keep it short. Share them after dessert at a family gathering. Share a short one on the way to church. If you put young children to bed, share one then. A testimony is simply a faith story. Don’t miss this powerful way to put out your scarlet cord of rescue..



Where will you use a scarlet cord in your family gatherings this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Start practicing now. Encourage and affirm each other. Pray to cooperate with God’s reaching love. Make a list of the faith stories you have. Write down the key points. Don’t expect quick results. Remember, Rahab didn’t know how long the fighting would last. She probably had to be creative in keeping them together. What she did know was that the scarlet cord was her whole-heart investment in God’s rescue.


Today, God is still on a rescue mission, and you have always been a deputized member of His rescue team from the moment you said you would follow Him. Hang out your scarlet cord and look for the way God shows up for rescue.


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